WIND- History of Wind Energy


engage interactive timeline  1880 to 2020

Since early recorded history, people have utilized wind energy. It propelled boats along the Nile River as early as 5,000 B.C., and helped Persians pump water and grind grain between 500 and 900 B.C.


Wind: A Hard-Blowing History

Some people may think of wind power as a new concept, but in fact humans have been relying on wind for travel and power for nearly 7,000 years. We wouldn’t be where we are today (literally!) if not for the energy derived from the wind.

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…the Egyptians used sails made of bundled reeds to propel their boats up and down the Nile, and later to fan out across the Mediterranean. In 1500 B.C., Asian voyagers used sails made of leaves to power their canoes across the Pacific. For better or worse, wind power enabled European sailing ships to set about conquering distant lands in the 15th and 16th centuries.

As agriculture developed in the Fertile Crescent, particularly the cultivation of…read the full story>>



How Much Power Can We Extract?
Betz Law
In 1919, a German physicist Albert Betz, based on conservation of momentum and energy, he proved that the maximum possible energy that can be derived from a wind turbine cannot be more than 59.3 percent, or 16/27 of the potential energy in the wind.

In practice, no wind turbine has ever achieved the Betz limit.


The Beaufort Scale
Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort of the British navy developed a system in 1805 to estimate the wind strengths without the use of instruments. It is still in use today….see the chart/scale


Illustrated History of Wind Power Development

The historical and technical information in this section is derived from many sources. Information on developments since 1975 is based primarily on my personal experience with the U.S. Federal Wind Energy Program, my extensive reading (and editing) of wind energy journals and research reports over the last 25 years, my conversations with wind energy researchers, interactions with members of the wind energy community, and my personal view of wind power developments and of the wind industry. Opinions expressed here are my own, of course. – DMD

– The Case for Wind Power
– Early History Through 1875
– 20th Century Developments
– Government Programs
– Recent Market Developments
– The Future of Wind Power